Belichick has quite a fan in Minnesota’s Thibodeau

Published 9:05 am Monday, January 30, 2017

Tom Thibodeau has won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics, a gold medal with Team USA and been hired to take over the Minnesota Timberwolves and remake them to fit a vision he has carefully honed over the last two decades.

Among all those sporting highs over a long career, one day stands out as much as any other. There was no trophy to raise, medal to don or speech to give. It was the day he spent at a summer practice watching Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots work.

“It was one of the great days of my life,” Thibodeau said.

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As Belichick prepares to lead his Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl on Sunday, he will have few bigger fans than the hard-driving coach and president of the Wolves. Thibodeau grew up a Patriots fan in Connecticut and has long been an admirer of the work Belichick has done to mold them into the NFL’s model franchise.

“I think he’s the greatest football coach of all time,” Thibodeau said. “What he’s done is utterly amazing.”

Thibodeau met Belichick through Doc Rivers while he was an assistant in Boston, but it wasn’t until he was the head coach in Chicago that mutual friend Tony La Russa arranged for Thibodeau to visit the Pats during organized team activities in 2012. Once there, Thibodeau got a peek behind the curtain of the New England dynasty, and it left quite an impression.

“Bill’s eyes are everywhere. There was so much precision to it,” Thibodeau said. “It was great to watch. You can see why they’ve had all the success they’ve had. The concentration in the meetings, you can see how clear and concise the communication was. They were going into the break before fall camp.”